Trip to Belgium & France

Published on 28 September 2016

Trip to Belgium & France

On 14th July 36 budding linguists and historians set off on a five day cross-curricular extravaganza. Our journey via Eurotunnel first took us to Ypres, Belgium, the site of extreme fighting during World War One. This marked a poignant moment in the remembrance of the war and we all appreciated the lives lost in the Battle of the Somme, which had commenced a century ago. The extent and futility of this tragic battle was realised in the museum in the Cloth Hall in Ypres as we followed the experiences of individual soldiers and civilians during this torrid episode in the history of Ypres.

After a delicious meal at the Crocodile restaurant on the first evening and a night in Lille, we made our way back to Belgium for an emotional afternoon at Tyne Cot cemetery where Ms Akers-Jarvis led an activity designed to allow students to research individual stories of exceptional bravery by soldiers now buried at this immense cemetery.

One student who had a very personal connection to the region was Robert Hart. Robert found the name of his great-great uncle on the Menin Gate, and  discovered at Wellington Quarry Underground Museum that his regiment fought there. He said ‘It feels really special to visit this place in order to remember the sacrifice of my family.’  Students respectfully found the graves of their allocated soldiers and chose to spend time quietly reflecting on the courage and sacrifice made by those whose final resting place was hundreds of miles from home. Ms Akers-Jarvis also spoke of George Rowe, a soldier who lived on Vandyke Road who had lost his life in this area. We visited his grave in order to commemorate the sacrifice of this local hero. With this in mind we then travelled back to Ypres for a special ‘Last Post’ ceremony and listened to the traditional ‘Reveille’ played by the bugler to commemorate the millions of lives lost whilst defending the region during the Great War.

It was the romantic city of Paris in 32 degree heat where we spent day four. Paris was uncharacteristically quiet as the famous city observed a day of mourning following the Bastille Day attack in Nice. Students soaked up the beautiful architecture whilst enjoying Madame Rhoden’s commentary on the Parisian sights from the bus, the boat trip along the River Seine and the amazing view from the magnificent Tour Montparnasse. Jasmine Angus enthused ‘This city is overwhelmingly beautiful – it feels incredible to be in Paris!’ As we enjoyed the scenery, including the iconic Tour d’Eiffel and basked in the French sunshine, many students expressed their regret for the present issues it faces.  Our final day was spent in Disneyland, during a heatwave! Students enjoyed their time together by braving the rollercoasters, dancing along with the parades and posing with Disney favourites.

Students were so enthusastic about their time in France and Belgium that they were reluctant to   return to the UK. This had been a wonderful school trip; one which had allowed them to practise their French, witness the scenes of the conflict from the First World War. The staff team were genuinely blown away by this incredible group of young people – throughout the trip they were consistently respectful, enthusiastic, courageous and protective of one another. It was a pleasure to enjoy the trip with them.

Mrs Quinn

Team Leader of History